Jody Dowd is beset, as she comes of age in the little company house she shares in a Southern mill town with her mother, Verna, sister Billie Mae, step-father Gurney and grown step-brother Marv. Forced to flight by the insistent and selfish attack of Marv, which Gurney, fighting his own feeling for Jody, refuses to believe, she runs away. Her once met companion, now remet on the road, is tight-lipped but tender Tay Brannon, a young refugee from a tainted past. The two find sanctuary with a Negro couple who get them jobs with their tobacco farming boss, who lets Jody's folks know where they are. Marv comes out to confront Jody and is faced with the wrath of Tay, whom he has implicated in a stolen car wreck (Tay's past included car thefts). Tay wants to run again, but Jody determines to go home and straighten things out as she can. But there is a ready resolution: Tay follows her, willing now to face up and settle down. The circumstances take on an improbable note here, but the neighborhood setting, with the mettlesome Gurney Dowd browbeating his family and the sympathetic old Mrs. Hackett who with her stiff but good-hearted daughter help out, is genuine.